Well, these last few days have been a real roller-coaster of emotions. After waiting for two weeks, watching the very volatile weather systems out in the Atlantic hammer the race boats in the Route du Rhum, I suddenly got an early morning call from Nick my weather router saying could I be ready to cross the start line in 48 hours time! Having slowed things down while the weather settled, this came as a big surprise! While the boat is ready and all the food is onboard, I suddenly got a strange feeling in the pit of my stomach – this is it, I’m off around the world tomorrow. (It will take around 24 hours to reach the start-line from Gosport). Paula and I didn’t quite know what to feel. We had got used to me being around and to suddenly ramp up again in 24 hours came as a bit of a shock.
The first thing I did was get out my computer, download the latest weather files and run a series of routing scenarios with the different wind models. I wasn’t 100% convinced. The models were not agreeing and while some scenarios looked good, others were still not quite right across Biscay. It was time to Skype with Nick in South Africa. While there was a possible opening in the weather, the fact that it had only suddenly appeared, also meant that it could all change again just as quickly. We decided that on reflection the conditions were still too volatile and changeable to leave. Nick had also been watching the patterns of weather and there seems to be a 10 day cycle where it repeats itself. Towards the end of the month there looks like a much more stable weather pattern developing with a high pressure over the Azores blocking the low pressure systems coming across the Atlantic and forcing them more to the north. If this remains the case, then I would look to leave Gosport around the 28/29 and should have a good run south, almost all the way to the Trade Winds and then on to the Equator.
So with this extra time, and having seen something similar on another Class 40, I have decided to build a spray screen to protect me from the elements when sitting out in the cockpit. It is a simple ‘fan’ like design using 3 sail battens attached to the back of the coach-roof. I have been working with the brilliant team at the Oarsome Chance Charity in Gosport. The charity was set up to help disadvantaged young people aspire to their potential by helping them gain skills and a route to employability. I gave them my old mainsail last year and they have made bags, wallets and even a deck chair out of it.
The first job is to plan out the frame and make a pattern for the material and windows. The idea being that is is reversible so can be easily removed and then set up on the other tack. We hope to have something back on the boat in the next few days. I can’t wait to try it out as being able to shelter from the elements while outside will have a big positive psychological boost.
You can follow me throughout the challenge via my satellite tracker. There is a link at the top of the page or via this tracker link. The tracker will update the position every hour and you can even leave messages on there for me and others to read.
We have had more guesses in the sweepstake and the prize fund keeps growing.
We have also decided to open up Pixel sales for a VERY limited time. If you want to have your picture or logo on the boat then you have until Friday 23rd November to email in your pictures.